Remarriage is typically preceded by a process of grieving a relationship loss, reentering the dating world, choosing to commit to a new person, and ultimately choosing to create a new family and a new life.
If you regularly read this column, you may know Cathy and I are not huge fans of formulaic solutions. Don’t misunderstand. Some formulas can be very useful for directing our thinking and helping us gain some clarity. But we can make serious mistakes by taking them as gospel. For example, “Don’t kiss until you are exclusive with your dating partner.” Could that be a good rule of thumb? Yes. Is it a good idea to make it a completely inflexible standard? Are there people out there who might be willing to kiss on a first or second date without a commitment (or who might be unwilling to kiss for the first six months) who would be completely loyal to you if married and otherwise a great match for you? If that is possible, why would you pass up a possibly great partner because you don’t share the same preference for how long to wait before you kiss—when, hopefully, you are both going to want to do a lot of kissing once you are married.
You would be letting a temporary dating formula dictate whether you are willing to move toward a permanent relationship based on very impermanent standards. (If someone is pushy about affection or is even asking for sex, that is different because it may indicate a serious difference in moral or religious values. Pushiness about physical affection may also indicate an unwillingness to observe personal boundaries.)
Another example could be, “you need to date for two years before discussing marriage.” Is that a good rule of thumb? Certainly. But what if you are in a long-distance relationship and can only see each other once every two months? That might mean that you have only seen your fiancé in person 10 or 12 times before you propose marriage? Is that really enough? That’s a judgment you are going to have to make, and no formula is going to make it for you. You might have known the person two years but perhaps your opportunity to be in their home or observe them up close and personal may have been very limited. Contrast that with a couple who lived in the same apartment or condominium building for five years and maintained a close friendship, but only got around to dating six months ago. Does the four and a half years of friendship count for nothing?
Anyway, we could go on with a myriad of examples of where formulas for dating or remarriage create silly results. We have often seen mid-singles rule out potentially great partners because of differences in dating styles, personal dating rules, and preferences that have little to do with making a great long-term marriage.
Our advice is to be rigid and unbending when it comes to clear moral standards, like keeping the law of chastity or not condoning any physical violence in a relationship. There are some standards that we are best served to insist on without compromise. Those are important, but relatively few in number. Most of the things we get hung up on are just preferences. “I don’t ever date someone who dated one of my friends.” Really? Why not? Why be rigid and inflexible about that standard?
Cathy’s best girlfriend since high school married one of Cathy’s former dating partners. We often did things with them as couples. They made a great couple, and it was very natural for them to choose each other once Cathy was married to me. Her friend was never “second choice” (except chronologically). She was a much better match for this particular man than Cathy was—and I was a better match for Cathy. Someone observing a “girl code” kind of standard might have ruled out her best match simply because of a dating formula that didn’t make any sense under the circumstances.
Every single’s path will look different and each person’s taste and preferences, along with spiritual and personal instincts, will ultimately create a unique and individual recipe that can’t be duplicated or guaranteed to work the same for someone else.
So, what is the recipe for remarriage? Ultimately, you can consider the wisdom behind any dating formula you hear about and decide if it generally makes sense. You can decide to follow such counsel, until you meet the person who matters more to you than your formula. Take the wisdom from any dating formula you hear about and apply it to yourself (or don’t) in a way that makes sense for you.
In the final analysis, the recipe for remarriage is very simple. One person must choose to take the risk of asking the other person to join her life to his forever (or vice versa), and the other must make the choice to accept that brave proposal. Those are the ingredients for starting a new marriage. There can be a wide variety of different paths to that destination. In our Amazon bestseller Intentional Courtship, we offer a principles, ideas, and practical wisdom to guide you on your journey and help you find the best person for you. We hope you will benefit from these ideas. At the end of the day, it is you who will live with the choice. So be careful but be brave. Be principled but be flexible. Above all of the formulas, be wise (see Jacob 6:12).
LILY Pod: Dating Formulas – What to Do With Them
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About the Author
Jeff Teichert, and his wife Cathy Butler Teichert, are the founders of “Love in Later Years,” which ministers to Latter-day Saint single adults seeking peace, healing, and more joyful relationships. They are co-authors of the Amazon bestseller Intentional Courtship: A Mid-Singles Guide to Peace, Progress and Pairing Up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff and Cathy each spent nearly a decade in the mid-singles community and they use that experience to provide counsel and hope to mid-singles and later married couples through written articles, podcasts, and videos. Jeff and Cathy are both Advanced Certified Life Coaches and have university degrees in Family & Human Development. They are the parents of a blended family that includes four handsome sons, one lovely daughter-in-law, and a sweet baby granddaughter.
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